Texas gives police broader powers to arrest migrants

Migrants who crossed the Rio Grande and entered the U.S. from Mexico are lined up for processing by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Sept. 23, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas.

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Eric Gay/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Before settling in New York City like thousands of other migrants this year, Abdoul, from Mauritania in West Africa, took an unexpected detour: several days in a remote Texas jail on trespassing charges for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Abdoul spoke on-camera to the AP on condition that his last name not be published for fear of jeopardizing his request for asylum. He fled his native country, where he says his life was in danger for protesting against the government. He is now living with his cousin, an Uber driver, in Brooklyn while waiting for U.S. work authorization paperwork.

Two years into Texas’ multi-billion dollar border security plan Operation Lone Star, the implementation of the program remains a confusing process with little accountability.

Republican supporters say it is a welcome response to President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. According to data obtained by The Associated Press, over 12,500 people have been apprehended through the initiative between the summer of 2021 and October 2023. The initiative has cost nearly $10 billion and has also included bussing thousands of immigrants across the country, funding more border barriers and deploying thousands of officers.

However, there is little evidence the program is deterring immigration.

Starting in March, Texas will give police even broader powers to arrest migrants while also allowing local judges to order them out of the country under a bill signed Monday by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The law is the most dramatic attempt by a state to police immigration since a 2010 Arizona law, rebuked by opponents as a “show me your papers” bill, that was partially struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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